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Financial Times 2009: A year of Middle East editorials

This is a crosspost by Just Journalism

§   The FT views Israel as primarily responsible for the perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while downplaying other factors. In particular it places the role of settlement-building in the West Bank above any other single factor affecting the conflict. Settlement-building is referred to as ‘colonisation’ in nine editorials

§   Other aggravating factors such as terrorism, disunity within Palestinian ranks and a failure to accept Israel as a Jewish state are downplayed. Neither of these last two are addressed as areas of legitimate concern for Israel; rather, both are viewed as ploys by Israel to ‘change the subject’

§   The editorial coverage over the past year reflects a gradual shift away from the view that Iran’s nuclear intentions might be peaceful towards the conclusion at the end of 2009 that they are not

§   The prospect of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is referred to in five editorials; yet no Financial Times editorial in 2009 makes reference to the threatening rhetoric from Iran’s President Ahmadinejad against Israel

§   The publication backed the Goldstone Report, which described the Israeli military operation as ‘a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population’. The Financial Times described Israel’s actions in Gaza as ‘disproportionate’ in four editorials

§   Israeli political leaders are depicted as ‘irredentist’, ‘hawkish’, and ‘ultra-nationalist’. In contrast, Palestinian leaders are portrayed as ‘moderate’ and ‘conciliatory’, if corrupt

§   Israel’s total military and civilian withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005 is not viewed as a meaningful Israeli concession, rather it is seen as inadequate at best, and a cynical ploy at worst

§   The Arab world is portrayed as having made a substantial effort for peace in the broader Arab-Israeli conflict. The Saudi Peace Initiative of 2002 is touted in seven editorials and the newspaper expresses sympathy with the recent Arab refusal to meet Israeli concessions with Arab concessions

§   Mixed attitudes towards the nature of Arab regimes are displayed. The newspaper attacks the West – the US in particular – for backing ‘an ossified order of … Arab strongmen’ typified by the Mubarak regime in Egypt; however, Saudi Arabia is spared harsh criticism, particularly regarding its human rights record

The full report is here.

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